Androgyny As A Feminist Novel Analysis

1167 Words5 Pages

However, it is evident from many of the novels published during this period, that such harmonious assimilation, even in fiction was not available to them. Thus, in many novels of this phase, the feminine heroine was seen as growing up in a world without female solidarity, where women in fact police each other on behalf of patriarchal tyranny. Also, the deficiencies of feminine novelists were seen in male portraiture which were attempts to conceal these deficiencies. The model heroes were thus the product of female fantasies about how they would act and feel if they were men. Furthermore, the use of male pseudonyms by women writers is another significant marker of this phase. While novel writing during this time was a route to fortune for …show more content…

The literature by women in this phase, characterized by self discovery, a turning inward, moved beyond feminism to a phase of courageous self-exploration, but also incorporated the double legacy of feminine ‘self-hatred’ and ‘feminist withdrawal’. The women writers of this phase thus moved towards a separatist literature of inner space focusing on the psychological rather than social aspects. Writers like Dorothy Richardson, Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf presented their version of modernism as a response to the material culture of male Edwardian novelists like H.G. Wells and Arnold Bennett. Androgyny, the sexual ethic of the Bloomsbury group and an important concept of the period provided a refuge from the confrontation with the body. Showalter, in discussing this phase places great significance to Virginia Woolf. In the chapter titled “Virginia Woolf and the flight into Androgyny”, Showalter surveys Woolf's biography and discusses A Room of One’s Own. She sets out to prove that for Woolf the concept of androgyny was a ‘myth that helped her evade confrontation with her own painful femaleness and enabled her to choke and repress her anger and ambition’ (p. 264). She further argues, “In Virginia Woolf’s version of female aestheticism and androgyny, sexual identity is polarized and all the disturbing, dark, and powerful aspects of femaleness are projected onto maleness” (p. 264). Showatter sees Woolf’s insistence on androgynous nature of the great writer as a flight away from a ‘troubled feminism’ (p. 282). Showlater accuses Woolf of impersonality in Room which distracts the attention from the message Woolf wants to convey in the text. For her, these concepts of androgyny and financial independence are neither liberating nor as obvious as they first appear. Since the work does not provide one unifying angle of vision, it fails as a feminist

Open Document